Fifty years ago, the Japanese Defense Forces killed Godzilla(r) or so they thought. When a series of terrifying natural disasters begin to plague Japan, including the inexplicable offshore sinking of a U.S. submarine, a mystic old man warns his nation that Godzilla(r) has come back to destroy Japan as revenge for all the souls lost in the Pacific War. When mere military might can not squash the monster, the mystic man awakens the Holy Beasts of Yamato - King GhidorahTM, Mothra(r) and BaragonTM, sleeping giants that protected Japan in ancient times. These untamed mammoth beasts take on Godzilla(r) with frightening supernatural brute power that has been 2,000 years in the making. Tradition and technology collide in this chilling high-tech, cutting-edge fable.
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This 2001 Godzilla feature from Japan's Toho Studios, released as part of the mighty monster's 50th anniversary, is a visually impressive and action-packed entry in the long-running franchise, but also one with a fast and loose re-interpretation of its history that may displease some stalwart fans. Writer-director Shusuke Kaneko (who previously revitalized the Gamera series) erases everything that occurred after 1954's Godzilla and re-imagines the beast as a mythical creature harboring the souls of the Japanese victims of World War II; its attack is challenged by three "Guardian Monsters": Mothra, perennial villain King Ghidorah (here reinvented as hero) and B-list player Baragon (from Frankenstein Challenges the World). The retooling, while imaginative, is supported by spectacular special effects, but the monsters' brawls (a core reason for enjoying these films) seem abbreviated, and Kaneko's script experiences awkward seismic shifts from comedy to grim drama that may befuddle longtime G-fans. Columbia-Tri-Star's DVD is widescreen and offers Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and a Japanese language track (with English subtitles) that should please viewers with an aversion to dubbing. Trailers for other Sony/Columbia sci-fi titles like the American Godzilla feature are also included. --Paul Gaita
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